Cronyism, Insidership and Corruption: Why I'm Not a Part of Utah's Republican Party

Something is rotten in the state of Utah. It seems that we can't go a week without some new controversy embroiling the Utah Republican Party. At the heart of it all is a political machine that would make Boss Tweed proud, a system of selection setup to allow the party faithful to anoint their leaders while brushing aside anyone who "isn't a real Republican". It appears that this is a systemic problem that won't go away any time soon.

Some of the most egregious offenses come from party leadership who try and participate in the anointing process and maintain that they are still neutral. Remember that "fabulous" mailer that praised five Republican lawmakers, four of whom face primary challenges? It was an obvious violation of appropriate neutrality requirements placed on state party leaders, yet GOP State Chairman Stan Lockhart can only fumble out a lame apology and an offer to do similar mailings for the primary opponents. Sorry, Stan, but it just isn't that easy. You've already made your preference and endorsement known and no amount of stumping for the other candidates can undo that.

It seems other leadership has similar issues. Vice-Chairman Todd Weiler finds himself in a similar bind after donating $500 to one of the eight Republican candidates looking to replace Dan Eastman in SD-23. His excuse? The neutrality language "is open for interpretation". Well isn't that convenient for Mr. Weiler.

Breaking party laws goes far beyond these kinds of endorsements. The Republican Party kept playing games with the delegate numbers, making changes to allocations all over the place just days before the caucuses. Stan Lockhart's daughter got elected as a delegate for a precinct she doesn't live in. The party refused to provide a list of e-mail addresses for party delegates so that candidates can make their pitches. It seems that following rules and proper decorum don't fit into the machine of the party GOP.

I've already seen the apologist statements attempting to explain away these improprieties. Even if they were true, the problem is that the party has acted in such a way as to have the appearance of evil if not the act. Had their own bylaws been appropriately scrutinized and followed, the controversies wouldn't even exist. Even the possibility of an action violating the bylaws should be enough for the party's highest officers to take pause and reconsider their actions. That it didn't shows their arrogance that they could get away with it scot-free.

Kip Meacham is one of the few brave souls to stick with his party and call them out on this behavior. Some people will call Mike Ridgway crazy, but he also seems to be one of the few Republicans disgusted enough with it to do something other than go unaffiliated. Can men like this fix the corruption coming from the top? I hope so, but when the party does things like bar them from conventions and get restraining orders, I have my doubts. This is why I remain proudly unaffiliated.

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4 Responses

  1. Derek Monson says:


    While I can understand your feelings about some of the actions of the Republican party leadership, I don’t think that remaining unafiliated is going to solve anything. I myself am currently unafiliated (and have been for some time, for similar reasons that you express in your post), but that won’t be the case for long.

    Like it or not, in a state that is so heavily Republican (and where the Democrats tend to concentrate themselves in a few areas), most of our elected officials are really decided at party conventions. For instance, Utah’s next governor will, in all practicality, be chosen at the Republican state convention, not at the ballot box in November. And this would likely be the case whether or not Gov. Huntsman was running for a second term.

    What this means is that the choice to remain unaffiliated is, in practice, a choice to voluntarily give up your greatest chance to influence who gets elected in Utah. And if you actually agree with the Republican party platform, but remain unafilliated only because of your views of the party’s leadership, I think you’re doing both yourself and Utah an even greater disservice.

    The best way to change something politically is to be proactive about it, not passive. If you want things to change, then get involved, get other good people involved, and work to change it, don’t just stay away from the problem and shake your head from the sidelines.

    Like Edmund Burke said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” That is as true in political parties and processes as it is in moral/social issues. I say this as someone who’s only now realizing this application of Burke’s wisdom for himself. This is why I will soon proudly be a Republican.

  2. Jesse says:

    You make some good points. If we had more Kip Meachams and Mike Ridgways trying to enforce party rules, things would probably get better.

    The platform of the Republican Party, however, is meaningless since it gets disregarded so frequently. For instance, the “Ethics and Standards” plank is a joke given the frequent violation of party rules and questionable conflicts of interest (like Aaron Tilton and his nuke plants). Local governments get overridden every year by the state on matters such as land use in North Salt Lake, the soccer stadium, and the transit sales tax approved by voters. The soccer stadium in particular was contrary to at least 3 or 4 planks of the platform and yet was pushed by party leadership. Free enterprise is regularly discouraged by the modern Republican Party as they propose and pass all kind of protections for incumbents in industries such as telecommunications, real estate and health care.

    If their problems were just a matter of internal management, I’d have less hesitation. As it stands right now, they apparently can’t even stick to their core principles.

  3. Fox says:

    It seems that the principle of self benefit is stronger than the principles of the Republican or any other party. We have a guy running for Congress for the 4th Congressional District that I agree with on all his stands except Indian gaming. I’m sure that the only justification for such allowances is the greasing of the campaign palms by the tribes. I will turn a blind eye to the gaming votes and vote for Tom McClintock in the next election anyway. If there is a better way, I’m listening

  1. December 21, 2011

    […] to the current chair.  While trying to turn up references on the caucus system, I stumbled onto a post on cronysim exibited by party leadership (2008) in which Weiler was also mentioned.  The issue raised in the […]

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